After the NSAC ruled to ban Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) on Thursday, UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman (11-0) hailed it an ‘amazing day for the sport’ to MMA Fighting. Weidman was on tap to meet Vitor Belfort (24-10) in the main event at UFC 173 on May 24, 2014 in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. On FOX Sports Live on Thursday night it was announced that Belfort has withdrawn from competing for the strap at UFC 173 and Lyoto Machida (21-4) will replace him.
As per a press release from the UFC, Belfort agreed to withdraw from the fight in order to allow the UFC’s promotional efforts to move forward on time.
Belfort issued a statement confirming his withdraw from the May 24 title fight. It read:
“The NSAC recently altered its policy and no longer will permit testosterone use exemptions, and will not permit a TRT program. As other juridictions may follow suit, I am going to drop my TRT program and compete in MMA without it. Given the time contraints involved between now and my proposed next bout in May, I have determined not to apply for a license to fight in Nevada at this time.”
Stepping in to face Weidman for the title is former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida, who has looked phenomenal since dropping down to 185-pounds. At UFC Fight Night 30, Machida decimated Mark Munoz in the first round with a head kick in his middleweight debut. He followed that win up with a decision victory over Gegard Mousasi at UFC Fight Night 36. “The Dragon” has won 4 of his last 5.
The undefeated Weidman issued a statement to FOX Sports 1 explaining how excited he is to take on the 35-year-old Brazilian:
“Machida is a dangerous fighter and he knows what it takes to become a champion. He’s been on my radar since he dropped to 185, so I’m looking forward to defending my title against him at UFC 173 in May.”
UFC President Dana White also issued an official statement regarding the newly minted main event for UFC 173 via press release.
“With today’s ruling by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who’s undefeated since dropping to 185 pounds, will fight champion Chris Weidman in the main event of UFC 173 in May,” UFC President Dana White said. “Machida was dominant in his last two fights, beating Gegard Mousasi and knocking out Mark Munoz.
He’s earned this shot at Weidman, who’s coming off two straight wins over the greatest fighter of all time, Anderson Silva. Machida wants nothing more than to avenge the losses of his friend and training partner, and become just the third fighter in UFC history to win titles in two separate weight classes.”
UFC 173 is set to take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV, on May 24.